The Galaxy Z Flip 5 has a much bigger cover display — what it can and can't do

Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 5
(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

The Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 5 has been officially unveiled, revealing exactly what we can expect from the fifth generation of Samsung’s flip phone family. The most exciting upgrade is, of course, the larger 3.4-inch cover display — also known as the Flex Window. 

Unfortunately the Flex Window isn’t quite as versatile as some people had hoped. Rather than offering unrestricted access to Android apps, Samsung has opted for a more controlled widget-centric system. There’s also been a lot of emphasis on customization and adding your own personal style to the cover display. 

Here’s everything you need to know about the Galaxy Z Flip 5’s Flex Window, along with what it can (and can’t) do. For more initial impressions of the new foldable, be sure to check out our Galaxy Z Flip 5 hands-on review.

Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 5 Flex Window: What’s changed?

Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 5.

(Image credit: Future)

The Galaxy Z Flip 3 and Galaxy Z Flip 4 both featured 1.9-inch cover displays. While useful, the smaller size meant there was a limit to its usefulness. You could access various useful features like the camera, quick settings, Samsung Pay, the notification menu, and other relatively minor aspects of the phone.

The Z Flip 5’s Flex Window is significantly larger, measuring in at 3.4-inches. It’s not the largest cover display on a foldable flip phone — the Motorola Razr+ has a 3.6-inch outer display — but this is a first for Samsung. The Super AMOLED display  offers 720 x 748 resolution and runs with a 60Hz refresh rate. It’s also built out of the super-strong Gorilla Glass Victus 2 for added durability. 

That larger screen means there’s room to do a lot more on the screen than you could with previous Z Flip devices. It’s not going to replace the larger internal screen, but there will be times where you can get stuff done without having to unfold the Galaxy Z Flip 5 first. 

Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 5 Flex Window: What it can do

samsung galaxy z flip 5 announcement video

(Image credit: Samsung)

A larger screen means the Z Flip 5’s Flex Window is now a lot more than a glorified viewfinder and notification bar. You can still do both of those things, but there’s a heck of a lot more on offer with this new model. The larger screen adds the ability to use widgets and a handful of apps without having to flip open to the phone’s main 6.7-inch display.

The Flex Window is just as customizable as the Z Flip 5’s main display, meaning you can choose your own backgrounds and clockfaces depending on your preferences. Widgets also play a big part in that, giving you access to essential phone functions without opening the phone. 

samsung galaxy z flip 5 announcement video

(Image credit: Samsung)

Swipe up to access Samsung wallet, and whatever cards, tickets or IDs you have stored in your phone. Swiping down takes you to quick settings, right takes you to notifications, and left takes you to widgets. Those widgets include a media player, your calendar, GameSnax minigames, Google Finance, SmartThings, weather and Samsung Health

The viewfinder function (or FlexCam) is greatly improved this year as well. The bigger display means a bigger preview, which offers a lot more versatility compared to the smaller screens of old. The phone's hinge can effectively turn the Z Flip 5 into its own tripod, and the bigger screen means you can see what the camera sees much more easily — particularly from a distance.

Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 5 Flex Window: What it can’t do

Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 5.

(Image credit: Future)

The most annoying thing about the Galaxy Z Flip 5’s Flex Window is that the screen doesn’t seem to be as fully functional as it should be. That’s primarily down to the restrictions on what software is actually available to use, with Samsung limiting use to widgets and a small number of apps.

Compare that to the Motorola Razr+, which allows virtually every single Android app to open on its cover display. Those apps do get scaled down to account for the screen’s smaller-than-usual aspect ratio, and users are warned apps may not function correctly on the cover display. But in my own experience, there isn’t a lot you can’t do with the Razr+'s cover display.

So far the only full apps we’ve seen running on the Z Flip 5’s Flex Window include Google Maps, Messages, Netflix, WhatsApp and YouTube. There’s no doubt more will be available at some point in the future, if Samsung really wants to boost those numbers. But right now the Flex Window on the Galaxy Z Flip 5 doesn’t seem anywhere near as capable as what you get with the Motorola Razr+.

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Tom Pritchard
UK Phones Editor

Tom is the Tom's Guide's UK Phones Editor, tackling the latest smartphone news and vocally expressing his opinions about upcoming features or changes. It's long way from his days as editor of Gizmodo UK, when pretty much everything was on the table. He’s usually found trying to squeeze another giant Lego set onto the shelf, draining very large cups of coffee, or complaining about how terrible his Smart TV is.